This week’s topic of attention and multi-tasking fuels a lot of questions and concerns I have about using the technology. Reading over the article, “The Myth of the Disconnect Life,” I found myself thinking, “wow, that is really wishful thinking and doesn’t really work for current expectations.” I disagree with William Powers’s Hamlet’s Blackberry and the call for the “Digital Sabbath.” Becoming disconnect from our technological lives is not only unrealistic, it’s irresponsible at times.
Now, let’s face it wasting six hours on youtube or spending an afternoon with a friend only to message another one friend for the majority of the day is not what I’m talking about. There are certain social activities online and leisurely uses of technology that it is beneficial to disconnect from, but let’s face it, we really can’t have a true 24-hour “digital sabbath,” especially as a graduate student. I can’t take 24-hours off from technology or from work without serious consequences. I think there are better ways to connect with individuals face to face without resorting to this preposterous “Digital Sabbath.”
Technology is part of our culture and it is embedded into the expectations of the responsibilities we take on. 97% of what I do for graduate school has to be done on technology from blogging to downloading research articles to submitting assignments. (The other 3% is riding the bus.) Outside of school, if I didn’t check in with my family at least once through a simple text in a 24-hour period, my face would be on a milk carton with Lifetime trying to buy the rights to the story about the commotion my mother caused with local law enforcement and Virginia Tech. (Alright, may be not that extreme, but I would definitely get an ear full next time I spoke with her on the phone, which actually prompt me to take a “Digital Sabbath.”)
My point is that a “Digital Sabbath” is too extreme for most individuals to follow. We simply can’t turn off our email accounts for 24-hours or stop working on a computer. This is something that only needs to be done if you have a problem with overusing technology. I know there are many times I miss out on something because I’m too busy working and I do wish I could take more time off the Internet and technology, but the cost is too much. Education is extraordinarily based on the Internet. We use it for everything and sometimes we don’t use all the resources we once did. (The classic example of a student emailing a question that is covered in the syllabus and frustration just having that email in your inbox.)
However, the convenience of technology and the Internet has come at the expense of being able to unplug. There is an expectation of always being accessible especially in areas of education. Personally, I would love to be able to unplug and not worry about answering my email for a weekend, but realistic, that is never going to happen. We have to understand there are certain areas of technology and the Internet we cannot disconnect from. Social media, yes; education/work, no. Teachers are expected to answer emails within 24 hours and students are expected to adapt to each different policy each instructor instates. It requires a balance between flexibility and structure to maintain the expectations of technology-driven world.